Posted On May 9, 2017

Herman Bavinck: Pastor, Churchman, Statesman, and Theologian (Ron Gleason)

by | May 9, 2017 | Biographies, Featured

Theologians of the English-speaking world are aware of household names such as Abraham Kuyper and B.B. Warfield, two of the greatest Calvinist scholars of the last century. Both of these men died within 12 months of each other, yet there is a third man who joined Kuyper and Warfield at their time of death and their greatness. That man is Herman Bavinck. Up until just about a decade ago, Bavinck’s writings were left untranslated from the original language. Bavinck’s exposure to the Western world has been minimal. Hailing from Hoogeveen, Bavinck has a story that has long gone untold. But now, with the translation of his seminal Reformed Dogmatics into English, studies of Bavinck are growing more popular. And luckily for us, Ron Gleason has written the first full biography of Bavinck’s life, exposing us to the man behind the towering works left for the Church.

Biographies follow all sorts of styles. Some are incessantly dry, filled with objective information and anecdotes. Others are authorial musings upon the life of a man, giving us little historical insight and more of an interpretation of the man’s life. Gleason’s writing style is warm, engaging, and extremely thorough. As Derek W.H. Thomas captures well, “This is more than a biography; it is a theological and cultural analysis that aids us in grasping the significant contours of the past century.”

Here’s an example. Gleason at length talks about Bavinck’s journey in theological school, going from Kampen to Leiden. This decision may be glossed over by some archives, but Gleason unpacked just how significant such a decision was. Bavinck’s decision to leave Kampen for Leiden led to much controversy for both him and his family. Gleason also showed how this decision went on to benefit Bavinck incredibly, and shape him for his future work. After all, his Reformed Dogmatics would arguably be nothing at all what it is without Leiden’s influence. Also compelling is how Bavinck stayed so committed to conservative theology at such a liberal school.

What we have in this biography is a well-rounded, broad, but deep exploration into the life of Bavinck as a student, a preacher, a politician, and a thinker. There are many moments in which Gleason connects the dots from experiences Bavinck had to lessons we can learn. Biographies easily applied are valuable tools, indeed.

I am grateful to Ron Gleason for this magisterial work on one of my favorite theologians. I have always appreciated Bavinck from the moment I began to read his Reformed Dogmatics, and after reading this biography, I feel like I understand and appreciate the man he was more than I ever have before.

Related Posts

Some Keys to Finding a Good Word-Centered, Christ-Honoring Church

Some Keys to Finding a Good Word-Centered, Christ-Honoring Church

On today’s Equipping You in Grace show, Dave considers some marks of a healthy local church, what to look for and avoid in a local church, and why local churches should be firmly grounded in and shaped by the Word of God. What you'll hear in this episode What a...

When Does God (Not Man) Consider a Couple Married?

When Does God (Not Man) Consider a Couple Married?

Suppose a young man came to you for biblical counseling concerning the ongoing tension and conflict with his ‘partner.’ Oh, by the way, he and his girlfriend are living together, though there has never been a wedding. He says to you, “Well, we’ve already committed to...

The Forbidden Fruit

The Forbidden Fruit

Genesis 3:1-5, “Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You[a] shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit...

Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace

On today’s Warriors of Grace show, Dave continues the Titus series looking at Titus 3:4-7 and the reasons, resources, and results of grace. What you’ll hear in this episode The Reasons of Grace The Resources of Grace The Results of Grace How Sweet the Sound!...

Principles of Personal Bible Study

Principles of Personal Bible Study

Host Kimberly Cummings interviews special guest Betty Price about reading plans, memorization, meditation, and other principles of personal Bible study like observation and application.

What About Evil by Scott Christensen

What About Evil by Scott Christensen

The Church is blessed with a brand-new resource on the problem of evil. This subject has been heavily debated for two-thousand years. It is a subject that many evangelists fear. A seeming lack of an answer is often used as an intellectual argument against the...

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Share4
Tweet
Email
Reddit
Share